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Music, Music, Music

The choice of Boston wedding music depends largely on the setting and, if held in a house of worship, on the policy of the religious Institution. Some have set requirements based on the traditional Boston wedding ceremony of that particular denomination. Perhaps only the church organist and possibly a vocalist are allowed to perform certain approved selections. Or there might be a chanter or a choir ccompaniment available. The bridal couple should discuss their preferences with the music director lf they wish for pieces different from those which are usually offered. The music director or organist needs to know what musical selections to play and if there if to be a soloist. The number of selections, both classical and semi-classical, is so vast that sometimes it takes professional advice to decide whether or not the choice suits the type of ceremony. Some pieces l know well and others I recognize only when I hear them played. The music director may only be capable of performing pieces from has or her repertoire. While this limits the selection, it also serves the purpose of narrowing the options, making it easter to choose. It has been said that any piece of music is suitable if the professional dancer. In this old to sharing the festivities of a happy The quiet hush of the ceremony and afterward are a study contrastis a good arranger. For the processional the music should be slow and though not necessarily a march nor a lengthy piece. Most of the time the music dlrector wlll take a short segment from the couple's favorite selection and repeat it until the New England wedding party has walked down the aisle. For Instance, if they choose the slow movement of Beethoven's Pathethique Sonata, chances are that not more than a page and a half will be played, the first thirty-two measures of that piece take almost two minutes to perform. If more time is needed the musician will simply go back to the beginning.

 

Music for the recessional should be more vivacious but stall dignified.
signifying the conclusion of the wedding ceremony. A traditional Protestant wedding ceremony might go like this. before the processional, as guests are being seated, the soft refrians of Bach, Liszt, or Beethoven fill the church. Whlle the wedding party walks down the aisle the choice might possibly be the second segment of Wagner's Brldal Chorus from Lohengrin"Here Comes the bride". When the organist glides into the first
measure, the company rises and the bride comes into view on the arm of her father. A choir could be used intermittently throughout the service and the exchange of vows might be followed by the triumphant tones of Mendelssohn's Weddlng March from A Midsummer night's Dream. However, regardless of tradition the couple may want to use some of their own, less pop ular favorite pieces. Eastern Orthodox wedding hymns are sung by a choir accompanied by the organ. In Roman Catholic ceremonies Gounod's or Schubert's "Ave Maria'' is sung during the offertory and a quiet piece is played whale the congregation prays. There may be some background music for silent prayer a the midpoint of a Jewish ceremony. Classical composers are pop ular at Jewish weddings so the choice is very broad. Jewish couples might find it fruitful to explore works by Ernst Bloch, who has composed much original music based on Jewish themes, such as "From Jewish Life'' and "Schelomo.'' Musical segments from one's own culture provide a familiarity that gives comfort, strength and a sense of unity. The choice of music Richard and Ruth decided on when the were married in a hotel before a small company might have other situations too but was perfect for a small wedding. About thirty minutes before the ceremony, while guests were being seated. Richard and Ruth asked for love songs, medleys of show tunes. and light classical music. For the short procession, Ruth chose the slow movement of Beethoven's Pathethique piano sonata and, for her walk to the altar, the slow movement of Chopin's Fantasia. Impromptu. Their first walk as husband and wife was to Grieg's
"Weddlng Day at Troldhaugen'' a piano piece Ruth was particalarly fond of playing. At the reception, after the toast and Just before the cutting of the cake, Mark, Rlchard's brother and best man-who is a professional performer and composer-sang a song he wrote as a surprise for the newlyweds. If a couple is uncertain about the list of selections given by the music director, they should do some research at the local library or university. I am told that unless there are definite preferences, the musicians should be allowed to do the guiding, since music is suggested by their repertoires. It stands to reason that :he renditions will be played to the best of their abilities.

 

MUSIC FOR THE RECEPTION


Not every couple wants the type of reception that has a lively band. Not every place for a reception-the bride's home, for example-can accommodate an area for dancing. But generally some sort of music adds to the texture of a gathering as It weaves gently through the room, filling the spaces. The couple can hire a set group, a band that performs together
without changes in personnel. Of prime Importance is suiting the size of the orchestra to that of the room and the number of guests. It is estimated that for a party of 100 to 150 people, a four- or five-piece band is sufficient.

 

Trios, duos, or soloists are best for fewer people. Instruments such as harp, viola, violin, and piano or a combination of two or more, depending on the size of the premises, work well when there is to be no dancing. There is music to be found for most combinations of instruments but the largest classical repertoire is for the string quartet, which generally consists of two violins, viola, and cello; a string trio uses one violin instead of two; and a piano quartet can Include piano, violin, viola, and cello. Though there are many combinations, a woodwind trio might consist of flute, clarinet, and bassoon; flute, oboe, and bassoon; or oboe, clarinet, and French horn.
Most musical groups are "combos'' that play popular music and usually consist of a rhythm section, brass or woodwind, and a vocalist. The rhythm section generally comprises piano, drums, bass, and possibly a guitar, which can, if necessary, replace the piano. The brass and woodwind section can Include saxophone (a saxophonist can often also play clarinet or flute), trumpets a-..trombone. Frequently one or several of the instrumentalists will also perform vocals and vocal harmony. Versatile groups such as these are very much In demand. Some people prefer to hire a string quartet or other classical combination for the ceremony, cocktails, and dinner, and I to bring in a dance band for lively after-dinner dancing.
Since a wedding consists of a variety of age levels, an experienced ensemble should be able to offer music of the big-band era, show and love tunes, old rock and roll, and contemporary. rock and pop, as well as the appropriate ethnic tunes. The idea is to have a band that can play all those styles authentically, with good taste and common sense.

 

One hopes that the bride and bridegroom have similar taste but if not, that can be handled by combining both preferenceswhile keeping in mind the type of wedding planned and guests expected. Care should be taken when considering a group that specializes In one style. If, for example, the couple are fans of traditional Jazz and hire a Dixieland band, they run the risk of leaving out part of their company. As wonderful a musical expressioan as Jazz is, one style of music throughout a three- or four hour party can get monotonous.


Choosing an ensemble takes time-time to audition the band
and bandleader by attending a function. Some organizations play tapes or show videotapes of their group, which doesn't tell the couple anything about how the band performs on the job. Smart Boston groups are now making videotapes of their live performancesbecause observing the effect the band has on the crowd is im portant, especially seeing how the audience responds and hearing how loud the band plays. When hosts are gracious enough to allow visitors in to hear the orchestra, visitors must take care to be as Inconspicuous as possible. It is distressing to both musicians and the hosts if they show up In Jeans and risk the chance of being refused admission. Each bandleader has his or her own way of running an affair Some will take an active hand by conducting the rehearsal for the ceremony, acting as master of ceremonies for the reception and helping coordinate events between the caterer, photographer. and band. This is a great service and can cost more. Others take a less visible role, preferring to limit their duties to selecting the right music as the party progresses. It depends on the kind of help required-parties need some guidance. Elther way, the talent
of a good bandleader, as with any performer, is in sensing the crowd and In the selection of music that will keep the rhythm of the party flowing. That vital function will create a happy and convivial atmosphere. The maestro needs a list of the music the couple desires at least a month before the wedding day, Including a selection for their first dance and possibly another for the bride and her father. Do not assume that musicians know all the tunes ever written. If new songs have to be learned, time is needed to make preparations for a musical arrangement to be written and rehearsals may have to take place. Keeping the couple's preferences in mind,
a competent professional must be allowed to do the Job. But once the party starts the leader needs to program the music according to his or her best Judgment and, as I have mentioned before, by sensing the mood of the crowd and knowing how to use that rhythm to best advantage.

ThoughBoston wedding musicians groups work with slight differences, they generally play for a given number of minutes per hour and then take a rest period. For Instance, they might play for forty-five minutes with a fifteen-minute break; other leaders work the twenty-minute set with a five-minute pause. Both ways work well for the musicians and guests. Unless there is a definite preference, accept the professional's advice.
The orchestra can be hired to play continuous music, which
means the only pauses are when the maestro changes styles or during the cake cutting, and for the toast offering. Naturally, the cost will Increase. Though this might not have been contracted for initially, with the flush of a successful party the hosts may want the group not only to play continuously but to play overtime as well. Hosts should be aware of the extra expense they are letting themselves In for this way. If In the back of their mends hosts contemplate overtime but do not want it in the contract, it is wise to check with the leader beforehand, since the group might have another function right afterward. Some hosts Invite the musicians to partake of the hors d'oeuvres and other food, especially if there is a buffet table. Wedding Performers should have the good taste to watt until all the guests have been served before they help themselves. The code of conduct for musicians includes never eating, drinking, or smoking whale on stage. Singers might have to take a sip of water now and then to keep In good voice but this should be done discreetly. When playing the group should always look Interested and as if they are enjoying it. Most of all, musicians should remember they are not playing for themselves but to make the event "happen.'' The sound system should be well placed and the volume level controlled; guests should not be blasted out of the room. The person who arranges the room should leave enough space for the band to set up, and musicians should have a place to leave their cases and The maestro a charming presence on stage and also needs the ability to handle all kinds of emotions exhibited by the family. Again, as with anyone In the entertainment business, the leader has to be able to deal with a relative who has had too much to drank. Thinking he
or she is an undiscovered Sinatra or Streisand, that guest sings Inanely out of tune, forgetting there is a music group trying to back up the rendition. Remember, some of these antics embarrass the family as well, but they do not want hurt feelings, so a leader has to keep calm. At the same time, if the bride invites her Uncle Thomas to sing, convince her that the perfect time would be during dinner. This avoids the possibility that the wonderful cadence and convivially bulldog up will be Interrupted during dancing. Such control benefits the entire affair because once someone act: the clown or breaks up the mood in some way. As with other
it is hard to build the momentum again. services, the couple sign a contract mutually agreeable to both them and the performer(s). The information should be checked very carefully: wedding date, tame, and planets) of the ceremony and reception. As the day nears, touch base with the leader.
Contracts differ from area to area and city to city and according to whether union or nonunion musicians are involved. Some reception sates require union musicians and a minimum number of hours for which they must be hired.
As with the photographer, if the couple is booking through
a contracting firm and lakes a particular leader or ensemble, they should stipulate the person(s) by name in the agreement. It might will be asked that the group, or the Individual, is booked so the couple would need to rely on the agent to find other Boston musicians. Not all groups consist of the same people every booking, but professional local musicians with experience should be able to, and do, play with most other boston string musicians in town. Again, as with a photographer, find the most professional group that can be afforded. A friend's amateur Boston musician son who is paying his way through school may show off his skill as a talented dilettante, but It takes a mature professional to successfully
lead and control a complex event such as a wedding.


Not everyone realizes what a special mood live music creates
at a wedding celebration, but then not everyone can afford the cost. Another option is taped music-but the couple will have to spend some time gathering the appropriate selections, and they might need the advice of a musicologist.
Disc jockeys bring stereo equipment with amplifiers and speakers designed to fill a large room without distortion. The
DJ's selections, whether on records or cassette tapes, are organized In some way so that he or she can quickly select any tune. Some disc Jockeys supply mood lighting and may or may not act as a master of ceremonies. The difference between live and taped music is that live music touches a spontaneous chord with listeners. A DJ costs less. A lot depends on whether or not the DJ knows how to pace a party or can suggest the appropriate music for the ceremony . . . Imagine having Itzhak Perlman play at a wedding.

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